Running a business smoothly and effectively across time zones can be a challenge. In fact, there are a few key challenges that anyone working remotely will face, whether they’re freelancing or running a more complex business. Today I will focus on some tools that I swear by to keep my digital marketing agency running smoothly continue.
Just a little bit of background, I run a digital marketing agency called Nordover Creative 100% from my laptop. My main work tasks are client relationship management, strategy, project management, and business strategy with an absolutely killer team supporting the many other facets of the agency.
My laptop-based business is also set up to where 1) if something happened to my laptop I could still access my entire business and 2) if someone tried to hack anything they’d basically be screwed. Best of luck if you want to try though.
Whether you run an e-commerce store, are a freelancer, or have a more robust business model, I hope these tools help. Even if you’re simply looking to optimize your current remote business, I guarantee these tools will help you stay organized, productive, and connected.
Let me just start by saying that I am obsessed with ClickUp. I’ve tried and tested out every major project management tool out there (Wrike, Monday, Asana, Trello, etc.) and it is hands down the best on the market.
It’s great for solo work and even better for teamwork, and seriously helps in keeping my remote team aligned and tasks organized.
It offers a range of features such as task lists, kanban boards, and Gantt charts, allowing for seamless collaboration and efficient workflow management. With ClickUp, I can easily assign tasks, set priorities, track progress, and communicate with team members, ensuring smooth operations regardless of our physical locations. A few other noteworthy features are time tracking, client access, in-depth reporting dashboards, and a Notion-style document management tool.
They’ve also recently integrated a lot of AI tools which seem pretty promising (If you want to read more about my favorite AI tools you can find that here).
If you want to try Clickup(believe me, you’ll never go back to anything else), you can try it out here.
Communication is key when running a remote business, and Slack has been the best tool for team collaboration and instant messaging. It provides dedicated channels for different projects, enabling focused discussions and easy file sharing.
Given that my team ranges from the Pacific Coast to Indonesia, it’s also nice to be able to set work statuses so we all know who is online and when.
And, while not necessarily super crucial to the “business” side, I also love all of the emoji reactions and more visual elements that make communication a little more fun and interactive. No one wants to work with a team who sounds ultra serious about everything!
Slack’s integrations with other tools further enhance productivity by automating notifications and updates, ensuring that everyone stays in the loop. You can easily start meetings with Zoom, turn a conversation of action items into a ClickUp task, and link Canva projects directly into a channel.
Security is a huge huge priority in my business. Nordover currently manages accounts with a lot of data, payment, and sometimes personal information that we take very seriously. Making sure only verified team members can access accounts is really important.
Managing numerous passwords securely is also a common challenge for digital nomads in general. LastPass simplifies this task by securely storing and auto-filling passwords across different platforms. With LastPass, I no longer have to worry about remembering complex passwords or the risk of security breaches. It’s a time-saving and essential tool that keeps my online presence safe and efficient.
Even better, LastPass Authenticator allows for verified team-wide access to accounts without having to hunt down phone numbers.
They have a great free version that you can use personally (or as a freelancer) just fine.
4. Google Chrome Profiles
To maintain a clear separation between personal and work-related tasks, I rely on Google Chrome Profiles.
This feature allows me to create distinct browser profiles, each with its own set of bookmarks, extensions, and saved login information. When using shared logins for different marketing tools, it’s also easy for my team to log into one Chrome profile where the paid tools they need are connected, and where we house any regular templates, resources, training materials, etc.
With this tool, I can easily switch between personal browsing and work-related tasks, optimizing productivity and avoiding distractions. Weirdly enough, having a separate work profile helps me “clock off” more effectively too without looking at all of my work tools.
5. Google Business Suite
Google Business Suite provides a suite of powerful tools, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Calendar, which are integral to my daily operations.
I don’t even know how I managed life before Google Calendar, to be honest.
These tools facilitate seamless collaboration, document sharing, and scheduling with clients and team members. Additionally, the suite’s cloud-based nature ensures that my files are accessible from any device, enabling efficient remote work. It just makes working with multiple people super easy.
6. Proton VPN
Using a VPN is also a security enhancement practice that and my team use regularly. Proton VPN offers robust encryption and anonymous browsing, allowing me to access the internet safely while using public Wi-Fi networks. By encrypting my online traffic and masking my IP address, Proton VPN ensures that my online activities remain private, protecting both my personal and professional data.
I personally love Proton and everything they stand for. In fact, all of my personal emails and files are stored with Proton. You can read more about my personal favorite “alternative” tools here for those looking for a little less mainstream and a little more personal privacy.
Automated meeting scheduling is a lifesaver when it comes to time management. Calendly simplifies this process by providing an automated scheduling solution that automatically syncs with my Google Calendar. I can share my availability through Calendly, allowing clients and team members to book appointments within the working hours I set.
It eliminates the back-and-forth email exchanges and helps me maintain a well-structured calendar.
Virtual meetings and video conferences are crucial for remote businesses, and Zoom has emerged as the leading platform for seamless communication. With its reliable video and audio quality, screen sharing capabilities, and interactive features, Zoom ensures that I can connect with clients, conduct team meetings, and deliver presentations with ease, regardless of our geographical locations.
Partner this with an app like Fireflies or Read (my favorite), and you can add automated, AI-generated meeting notes to every meeting.
This free tool is super helpful for time zone conversions, making it essential to keep track of local times in various locations. WorldTimeBuddy simplifies this task by providing a user-friendly interface to compare and schedule activities across different time zones.
This tool ensures that I can efficiently coordinate with clients and team members worldwide, avoiding scheduling conflicts and miscommunication. I don’t know about you, but if someone is sending me texts at 2 am I’d be getting pretty annoyed. I try to avoid doing this to anyone else!
Like anyone, I can really struggle with bouts of procrastination, especially given the number of distractions around (new city to explore anyone?!). RescueTime helps me stay focused by providing insights into how I spend my time online and offering dedicated work sessions. I don’t know why the timer on my screen makes such a difference but it seriously does.
It tracks website and application usage, offering detailed reports and productivity scores. If you’re in the middle of a session, it will automatically block you from common distractions such as Whatsapp or Facebook and make you manually log it as a personal activity instead of a work activity.
Let’s just say it’s harder to ignore your distractions this way. With this information, I can identify areas of improvement, set goals, and optimize my work habits to maximize my dedicated work hours. They have two plans available to try – I personally use the new version of RescueTime, but they’re both affordable and offer different tools to suit your needs.
As a digital nomad and online business owner, these essential tools have revolutionized the way I work and have been instrumental in the success of my remote business. By leveraging the right online systems, you can streamline your operations, enhance collaboration, and excel during your work hours from anywhere in the world.
Embrace the power of these tools, adapt them to your unique needs, and unlock the true potential of your online business while enjoying the freedom of being a digital nomad.
Any tools I missed? Drop some of your favorites below in the comments! I LOVE productivity hacks and am always on the lookout for better ways of doing things!